Austin McGill has one goal: to satisfy the conditions of his estranged father’s will. After living on Starfire Ranch for three months, he’ll sell the property and leave East Tennessee and its heartbreaking memories…forever. At least, that’s his plan until Samantha Lakin comes along.
Samantha Lakin one goal: to save Starfire and its summer camp for special-needs kids like her foster daughter, Jenny. To succeed, Sam will have to soften Austin’s stone-cold heart. Not an easy task, especially when she realizes the ranch isn’t the only thing that needs saving.
Can Sam’s devotion and the love of a little girl teach Austin to let go of the past and to trust God for the future before the ranch and any chance at a happily-ever-after are lost?
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His heart skipped a beat and for the slightest
moment, a haze covered his vision. She was the Sam
his father had spoken of in the will? No way. It was a
cruel joke. But then again, the old man had excelled at
Rich, dark hair cascaded in waves down her back
to meet legs that seemed to go on forever beneath
faded jeans. He imagined years of riding horses had
made them strong and toned. And her eyes…the
emerald shade matched shimmering pasture grass that
blanketed the ground as far as he could see. A gentle
breeze carried the scent of her shampoo—a blend of
citrus and apples that danced with sweet hay and the
oiled leather of the western saddle across the mare’s
Austin shook his head and found his voice. “I
know where the barn is. I grew up here, at least
until…” He caught himself. No need rehashing the
past, especially not with a complete stranger, no matter
how appealing she might be. “Sam…the name…I
thought you were a…guy.” His gaze swept her head to
toe, and he nodded with appreciation. “But obviously I
She studied him as the mare nickered and nudged
her hand. “Well, I’ll take that as a compliment.”
“You don’t…live in the house, do you?”
Her laughter was like tinkling glass. “Of course
not. Jenny and I live in the guest quarters beyond the
house. We’ve been here—I mean, I’ve been here—
almost three years. Jenny came last summer.”
“My foster daughter. She’s seven.” The sound of
an engine rambled through the pasture’s stillness and
Austin followed Sam’s gaze as she turned away for a
moment. Down the road, dust billowed around a small
yellow school bus. “Here she comes. Perfect timing.
You can meet her, Austin. She’s been waiting for you.”
“Waiting for me?”
“Yes. She wants to introduce you to the horses.”
His gut clenched and he shook his head. “Not
today. I’m heading to the house.” No way, no how,
would he get sucked into her ploy to soften his resolve.
Three months, ninety-two days, two thousand, two
hundred eight—no, seven hours left. “I assume the
house is just where I remember it?”
Disappointment shadowed her gaze, and she
nodded curtly. “I assume so.”
“Great. I’ve got the key, so I’ll just go now. Nice to
meet you, Sam. I guess I’ll see you around.” He slid
behind the truck’s wheel and cranked up the music—
anything to chase away the jumbled thoughts in his
head. Dust engulfed the windshield as he gunned the
engine and tires shredded the hard-packed dirt road
until he could no longer see Sam—or those long, toned
legs and waves of hair—in the rear-view mirror.